Guestlists. If you’ve ever planned a 21st, or a wedding, or any other significant function, you may be aware of the dynamic discussions it can sometimes inspire. Who do you invite? And why? Does inviting one person really mean you have to invite 10 other people? Will they be offended? Does that matter? What’s the budget? If you’re planning with someone else, the questions increase as now there are also the opinions of yet another person to consider! Many many hours have been spent discussing our wedding guestlist, and a considerable amount of thought has gone into each person placed on the list. I was reflecting on the (sometimes crazy) effort and thought behind compiling a guestlist when a question came to my mind. Who is Jesus inviting to His wedding? We had been praying about the guestlist but to be honest, I didn’t know what I was really asking for. However, if life on earth is a shadow of things to come, and marriage is a reflection of Christ’s love for the church, then what is the wedding of the Lamb going to look like? I’ve thought about Jesus our bridegroom, and the church His bride. I’ve even considered the character of His guests and their preparation for this heavenly wedding. However, I had never thought to consider the heavenly guestlist itself. What is the point of having guests, and why are particular people chosen for the invitation? My own human desire is to celebrate the covenant of my marriage with people who I respect and love, who I know also respect and love me and my future husband – people who we hope will continue to walk with us in friendship for a long time. What is the heart of God for His wedding guestlist?
“…Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! … These are the true sayings of God.” – [Revelation 19:9]
While wedding ceremonies and traditions vary across countries and cultures, most couples will have a ceremony and reception of some sort. Whether it is a grandiose celebration or an intimate gathering, these two components of the wedding celebration seem well-known throughout all nations. Some people choose to have an open invite to the ceremony, or simply to invite more people to the ceremony, but have a much smaller reception. For others, all the invitees go to both ceremony and reception. There are many variations and many things to consider in the decision of who to invite to what. The Parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22 ends with these words 14 in verse – “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Revelation 19:9 calls the guests of the Lamb’s marriage supper blessed. I believe all the earth will see the wedding ceremony of the Lamb, but only some will be invited to the marriage supper. John writes in Revelation 5:13, “And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honour and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!’” The Greek for “creature” is κτίσμα (ktisma) which literally means “created thing”. So then, it seems like John sees every created thing worshipping the Father and His Son, the Lamb. Consider the following verses:
- [Psalm 24:1] – “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therin.”
- [John 1:3] – “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
- [Romans 14:11] – “… As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
- [Philippians 2:10-11] – “… that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
- [Revelation 4:11] – “…For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”
If God created all things, and every created thing in heaven and on the earth, and under the earth and all that are in the seas, then that implies that all these will indeed worship Him in eternity. It includes the heavenly beings, humans, and even those in darkness. There will not be one who does not give glory to God in that day. “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” [Colossians1:16]
I don’t just want to witness the wedding ceremony of the Lamb, I want to attend the marriage supper! More than that, I was to participate in it! I want to be with Christ in eternity, celebrating His victory, living and expressing the perfect love that He has for us, and that He puts in us for the Father.
So, who’s on the guestlist? Who do the Father, Son and Spirit want to celebrate with? Revelation 20 describes the final judgement and the Revelation 21 describes the joyful celebration of victory that comes after it. In [Revelation 21:2-3], John describes the moment when the Father gives His Son His bride:
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God himself will be with them and be their God.’”
Just imagine that scene – the Heavenly Father taking the hand of the Bride, the Church, and giving her into Jesus’ hand to have and to hold for all eternity. What would Jesus say to His church? What would the church say to Jesus? The scriptures are full of Jesus’ proclamation of love to His bride and her response to Him. In “The Bridegroom’s Vow”, I imagine how these heavenly wedding vows might read: https://lostnowfoundk.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/the-bridegrooms-vow/
The final wedding reception, set in a place of literal “heaven on earth” continues into eternity. The saints celebrate the union of Jesus and His Bride forever. [Revelation 22:5]
“There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor the light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”
The most lavish wedding feast on earth cannot even begin to compare to the majesty of the wedding reception God will host for His Son. A bride and groom are radiant on their wedding day, but Jesus and His Bride are even more so on theirs. The guests of the bride and groom are joyful to witness their union but in that day, the saints will rejoice with an unfathomable joy as the Bride becomes One in completeness with Jesus. At this feast, there will be a richness of fare offered to those who desire it and they will never thirst or hunger again, but their soul will delight in the Lord [Isaiah 55:2, John 4:14]. Who are they that will taste the goodness of this eternal wedding feast? [Psalm 36:7-9] gives us an answer:
“How precious is your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings,
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.”
Revelation 20 and 21 also tell us that it is those with their names found written in the Book of Life that remain for the wedding feast. Any others are cast into the lake of fire and these are seen to be those who are “cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars…” However, God says that “He who overcomes shall inherit all things…” Who is written in the Lamb’s book of Life? Many an invite list undergoes a “culling” process in which names are dropped. These are usually people whom the host has not seem for a time, grown distant from, had a falling out or in some way, have ceased to be closer friends with the host. It may be an issue of venue capacity, financial limitation or personal choice. However, in any case, the host deems these people no longer close enough in relationship to withstand the cull. It seems like the heavenly wedding guestlist, those written in the Book of Life, also undergoes a cull, or a “blotting out” of names. In speaking to the seven churches, Jesus not only praises them, but also points out some trouble areas. “You have left your first love!” He tells Ephesus. “You are lukewarm in your affections towards me,” He says to Laodicia. In each case, an invite to the final wedding feast is promised to those who overcome. To the church of Sardis, He says, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” [Revelation 3:5] Those who overcome are those who continue in intimate relationship with Jesus – they know Him and He knows them. Do you know Jesus? Does He call you His friend?
Remember the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22? – “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son.” [Matthew 22:1] This King, God, sends servants to invite people to the wedding but they are not willing to come. They make excuses and each goes their own way – they ridicule and laugh at the request, they attend to their farm, another to his business. Is this talking about Israel? Is it talking about all the nations? Does it sound familiar? [Isaiah 53:6] says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Meanwhile, our God of endless love and patience pursues us, as He pursues Israel still today calling “Look to Me, and be saved…” [Isaiah 45:22], “Return to Me” [Jeremiah 4:1]. God wants His people to be present at His Son’s wedding feast. Yet, though He is patient, He becomes angry when His invitation is treated with contempt and His servants are treated shamefully and killed. He administers justice to the offenders and opens His invite so that as many as are found are invited. Not everyone who arrives stays, however. The man who is not wearing wedding clothes is cast out! “…many are called, but few are chosen.” Those who are chosen are those who overcome. Those who overcome are dressed in white garments appropriate for the wedding feast of the Lamb. They are those who the Lamb knows, who He confesses to the Father and whom He dresses in His righteousness. These are the ones who are invited to the wedding supper to the Lamb, who are called blessed and who participate in a never ending celebration of victory in Christ. These are the ones who have invested in relationship with the Bridegroom. Those written in the Book of Life, and in the heavenly wedding guestlist, are called “Friends of the Bridegroom.”